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Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economic historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist famous for developing Marxism, a socialist movement that has been incorporated by societies around the globe. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894), Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economic historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist famous for developing Marxism, a socialist movement that has been incorporated by societies around the globe. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894), many of which were co-written with his friend, the fellow German revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels. The text of Wage Labour and Capital came from lectures Marx delivered to the German Workmen's Club of Brussels in 1847, a time of great political upheaval. The relationship between wage-labour to capital is a core concept in Marx's analysis of political economy and its relationship with capitalism. This book is an essential for anyone attempting to understand the development of Marxist theory. This edition of Wage Labour and Capital is specially formatted with a Table of Contents.


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Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economic historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist famous for developing Marxism, a socialist movement that has been incorporated by societies around the globe. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894), Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economic historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist famous for developing Marxism, a socialist movement that has been incorporated by societies around the globe. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894), many of which were co-written with his friend, the fellow German revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels. The text of Wage Labour and Capital came from lectures Marx delivered to the German Workmen's Club of Brussels in 1847, a time of great political upheaval. The relationship between wage-labour to capital is a core concept in Marx's analysis of political economy and its relationship with capitalism. This book is an essential for anyone attempting to understand the development of Marxist theory. This edition of Wage Labour and Capital is specially formatted with a Table of Contents.

30 review for Wage Labour and Capital (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I had lunch with a group of friends a month or so ago. It was the day that a speech was held at the Town Hall by the man our new government commissioned to write a report into climate change and what our response ought to be to it. These lunch things can get quite heated at times, but not so much on this day. What we really needed was a climate change sceptic to stir things up a bit. As my friend Ian points out, our only hope is that the sceptics are right and there is nothing to worry about – be I had lunch with a group of friends a month or so ago. It was the day that a speech was held at the Town Hall by the man our new government commissioned to write a report into climate change and what our response ought to be to it. These lunch things can get quite heated at times, but not so much on this day. What we really needed was a climate change sceptic to stir things up a bit. As my friend Ian points out, our only hope is that the sceptics are right and there is nothing to worry about – because if even the most conservative climate change scientists are right we are doomed. We were talking and the question came up as to whether Capitalism is capable of adjusting to such an extent that it does not continue to rely on ever expanding markets and exponential growth. Marx fully answered that question about 150 years ago. His answer was unequivocal, and it was no. This book is based on a series of newspaper articles Marx wrote in 1849 which Engels turned into a pamphlet, after substantially editing the original, in 1891. I don’t normally go into so much detail on the genealogy of a book, but I find it fascinating that Engels spends so much time in his introduction worrying over this. He also made changes to the Manifesto at some time after Marx’s death and I think poked around that too. Given that Communists are supposed to be people who have only one absolute belief – that everything is, and always will be, in a state of flux – this desire to ensure the original words still exist (e.g. “Moreover, so many copies of the original text are in circulation, that these will suffice until I can publish it again unaltered in a complete edition of Marx’s works, to appear at some future time.” Engels’s introduction) strikes me as very strange. This work is meant to be read by the uneducated masses – it is written in a style which would have been perhaps much more accessible then than it appears now. Even so, it is no harder to follow than a Jane Austen novel – although, much drier in content. If it suffers from anything it is that his explanation of surplus value here relies too heavily on numbers. He talks of six shillings of wages and twenty four shillings of machinery and after a while I am sure many people would have given up, lost in a haze of numbers. The idea is remarkably simple, really. Many people who have studied any economics at all will tell you that the price of something is determined by the laws of demand and supply – and naturally, they are wrong. Demand and supply are not enough, on their own, to explain the price of anything. Classical economists claimed that the price of anything was the cost of labour that is expended in producing it. And that sounds good, but what is the price of labour itself? How is that determined? How can one work out a proper ‘wage’? Marx’s key insight is that the Capitalist only needs to pay the labourer enough money for the labourer to be able to reproduce his labour. That is, to feed himself and his family and to bring up his children. The interesting implication of my use of ‘his’ here is the effect Marx predicted of women and children being brought into the workforce. If you can raise a family on $10 a day and only the husband is working then the man’s wage – on average across society – will need to be $10 a day. If women and children work the family wage will continue, on average, to be $10 per day. This is not an argument for keeping women out of the workforce – but I think it is an argument that is confirmed by the life experience of many people today in two income households who seem no better off today than they were years ago in a one income household. I think Marx was much too concerned that people understand his theory of value and made the whole thing a bit too complicated. The idea is simply that the cost to reproduce the labour of the labourer is much less than the value the labourer can produce if put to work during the day – so the labourer’s wages are always less than the value produced in exercising that labour. The effect of this is to create a surplus of value which capitalists take for themselves. This has many implications for capitalism in general. Firstly, it means that those producing stuff will, by definition, not be paid enough to be able to buy back what they produce. One of Marx’s great insights was to show that every crisis of Capitalism is – for the first time in the history of the world – a crisis of over-production. Every other epoch lived in dread that there would not be enough – only under capitalism does having too much lead to economic collapse. This is something Galbraith mentions in The Great Crash 1929 too. As a society that is obsessed with competition (and one that can only see the positive side of competition at that) it is bracing to read Marx on the negative implications competition has for society. Mostly this is what gets referred to as Marx’s theory of the alienation of labour. What follows is the McCandless version: Demand and supply mean that where there is more demand and less supply there is money to be made. Where there is money to be made capital will flow to seek to mop up that money. If there are two capitalists producing the same thing and if the price of each article of that thing depends solely on how much labour is embodied in each article, then the capitalist who can produce the thing with the least amount of labour contained in it will make the most profit. So, capitalists, because of competition, are forever seeking to increase the productivity of labour (thereby reducing the quantity of labour in any single item and thereby reducing the cost of every single item). They do this by increasingly breaking down the tasks that need to be performed and by increasing the application of machinery to the productive process. More skilled labour attracts a higher price – so capitalism seeks to make all labour unskilled labour, that is, cheap labour. If today you need specialist skills to work – then tomorrow capitalism will create a machine and then you will only need to turn a handle or do something else equally moronic. Marx saw this process of capitalist competition as being one that inevitably brings about the deskilling of labour. And unskilled or semi-skilled labour has no interest in what it produces. It is alienated from its own work. This labour literally sells its time to the capitalist – and as such does not see this ‘sold time’ as even part of the labourer’s ‘real’ life. (Think of those ‘working to live’ coffee cups) There are those who thought Marx saw only the dignity of human labour – this really is a misreading of Marx. I guess what he was seeking was to bring some dignity back into human labour. No sooner has the capitalist increased production, than the competition also increases production – and the price of the thing produced is once again brought down to the cost of production. To make a profit the capitalist must once again increase the productivity of labour – and thereby once again increase the deskilling of labour – and once again drive down the price of the goods produced. The implication of this is that Capitalism, by its nature, is premised on ever increasing the rate of production – ever increasing the amount of stuff produced. What does this mean in a world quickly running out of resources? Clearly, it means Capitalism is going to be the death of us after all. This is a remarkably short book, and a remarkably easy book to read, even in a single night. It is available here http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/... and those wonderful people at Librivox have also recorded it as a talking book here http://librivox.org/wage-labour-and-c... The fact that it is short and easy to read could be criticisms – but this is an excellent introduction to Marx’s ideas and by the man himself, well, more or less – remember, this is Engels’s redrafting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The Good: --For those not ready for 1000+ pages of Capital, Vol 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production, but want to read the words of “economic” Marx (edited by Engels), this pamphlet is quite helpful. --The last chapter (Effect of Capitalist Competition on the Capitalist Class, Middle Class, and Working Class) is the climax. Of course, the 8 previous chapters of abstraction were necessary, but I always find application of theory to be its life and purpose (for which Marx surely agrees, The Good: --For those not ready for 1000+ pages of Capital, Vol 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production, but want to read the words of “economic” Marx (edited by Engels), this pamphlet is quite helpful. --The last chapter (Effect of Capitalist Competition on the Capitalist Class, Middle Class, and Working Class) is the climax. Of course, the 8 previous chapters of abstraction were necessary, but I always find application of theory to be its life and purpose (for which Marx surely agrees, and modern mainstream economists scorn). --Key points of the climax: 1) Capitalism has a systemic contradiction that leads to crisis: capitalism is driven by profits, but this is achieved through competition, which lowers price to the cost of production (thus squeezing profits), all on an ever-greater scale… ...Note: this assumption of competition reveals the Classical lineage that Marx is building from/critiquing (think Adam Smith, who assumed markets would be freed from economic rent). Other interesting perspectives here include capitalism's failure to free the market from economic rent (Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy), various transitions of capitalism (i.e. "monopoly capitalism") and other historical perspectives (ex. Fernand Braudel: on capitalism as monopoly guaranteed by the State) 2) A result of competition is greater division of labor, to save costs (by maximizing efficiency) and pay cheaper wages (from deskilling). This forces proletarianization, as workers must work more, and more are forced into the labor market. ...Note: if you can think of exceptions to this, esp. higher wages, see "imperialism" in the section below 3) Another result of competition is increased technology. Increased automation squeezes the labor market, while the increasing scale of technology squeezes capitalists with additional costs/credit(!) required. 4) The outcome of capitalist competition is overproduction (too many products to sell at a profit). This can be resolved by new markets (or by destruction, which Marx does not detail here). [Think of WWII, which saved global capitalism from the Great Depression by its creative destruction of stagnant capital and invention of the US Military Industrial Complex]. But the need for new and greater markets to satisfy the greater scale of production (and greater credit required) leads to “more frequent and more violent” capitalist crises. The Missing: --As you can see from the summary above, this is a brief glimpse of the “economic” Marx; plenty of critiques on politics and moral philosophy to be found elsewhere. --I’ll have to play around with the abstract principles some more. Especially in social sciences, the more abstract one goes (i.e. the more sensory observations are stripped away in order to find core processes), the more I need to see observable experiments/examples to back up each step. --Next steps: 1) More context, i.e. what is scientific socialism? Socialism: Utopian and Scientific 2) The next stage of Marx? He intended but never lived long enough to include in his political economy analysis: the state + trade + world market. Thus, imperialism is a crucial component to incorporate, i.e. what happens when costs of connectivity for the global division of labor significantly decreases, making the exploitation of foreign markets/labor/resources more affordable? -Utsa Patnaik details this: https://youtu.be/HhjWT5W5c0Y -Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism 3) Finance/debt/banking: The real force that pushed history to breakneck velocity […] was not the share market. Share markets were simply not liquid enough to bankroll Edison-sized ambitions. At the turn of the 20th century […] neither the banks nor the share markets could raise the kind of money needed to build all those power stations, grids, factories and distribution networks. To get those vast projects off the ground, what was required was an equivalently-sized network of credit. Hand-in-hand, shareholding and technology led to the creation of shareholder-owned mega banks, willing to lend to the new mega firms by generating a new kind of mega debt. This took the form of vast overdraft facilities for the Thomas Edisons and the Henry Fords of the world. Of course, the money they were lent did not actually exist… yet. Rather, it was as if they were borrowing the future profits of their mega firms in order to fund those mega firms’ construction. -Yanis Varoufakis, Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present4) A modern (and very accessible) examination of capitalism: Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works - and How It Fails 5) Post-capitalism? Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present

  3. 5 out of 5

    gage sugden

    This essay actually brought me to tears. It's one thing to read about a phrase like "wage slavery" in passing, it's another to be explained exactly how the exploitation works. What a depressing yet eye opening read. Man this is it. I've been grappling over the last few weeks about whether Leninism or Trotskyism or whatever other ism is right. I still haven't decided that. But an essay like this really does convince me. Capitalism is evil and a total dead end besides. I'm now a communist. Ok. Read This essay actually brought me to tears. It's one thing to read about a phrase like "wage slavery" in passing, it's another to be explained exactly how the exploitation works. What a depressing yet eye opening read. Man this is it. I've been grappling over the last few weeks about whether Leninism or Trotskyism or whatever other ism is right. I still haven't decided that. But an essay like this really does convince me. Capitalism is evil and a total dead end besides. I'm now a communist. Ok. Read this book for an approachable yet detail explanation of the economics of capitalism. There's no fancy philosophy here. It's plain, dry and to the point. If you read this and don't think capitalism is wrong then you must be bourgeoise class and benefiting from it, that's the only way I could imagine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    Great book. I think everyone should read it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Morgane

    learned a lot about wages :-)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Marx reviews the links between capital wage labour, profit and wages. An important reading for understanding economic forces. The reading is also a quick read so go ahead and read through it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.

    If this doesn't describe modern America, I don't know what does... "Furthermore, to the same degree in which the division of labour increases, is the labour simplified. The special skill of the labourer becomes worthless. He becomes transformed into a simple monotonous force of production, with neither physical nor mental elasticity. His work becomes accessible to all; therefore competitors press upon him from all sides. Moreover, it must be remembered that the more simple, the more easily learne If this doesn't describe modern America, I don't know what does... "Furthermore, to the same degree in which the division of labour increases, is the labour simplified. The special skill of the labourer becomes worthless. He becomes transformed into a simple monotonous force of production, with neither physical nor mental elasticity. His work becomes accessible to all; therefore competitors press upon him from all sides. Moreover, it must be remembered that the more simple, the more easily learned the work is, so much the less is its cost to production, the expense of its acquisition, and so much the lower must the wages sink – for, like the price of any other commodity, they are determined by the cost of production. Therefore, in the same manner in which labour becomes more unsatisfactory, more repulsive, do competition increase and wages decrease. The labourer seeks to maintain the total of his wages for a given time by performing more labour, either by working a great number of hours, or by accomplishing more in the same number of hours. Thus, urged on by want, he himself multiplies the disastrous effects of division of labour. The result is: the more he works, the less wages he receives. And for this simple reason: the more he works, the more he competes against his fellow workmen, the more he compels them to compete against him, and to offer themselves on the same wretched conditions as he does; so that, in the last analysis, he competes against himself as a member of the working class"

  8. 4 out of 5

    Griffin Wilson

    An excellent introduction into the economic theories of Karl Marx. He would later go on to elaborate on everything proposed here in his 3 volume magnum opus, Das Kapital; however, here you will find, more or less, the fundamental essentials of his thought. He writes at the beginning: "We shall seek to portray this as simply and popularly as possible, and shall not presuppose a knowledge of even the most elementary notions of political economy. We wish to be understood by the workers." In my view he An excellent introduction into the economic theories of Karl Marx. He would later go on to elaborate on everything proposed here in his 3 volume magnum opus, Das Kapital; however, here you will find, more or less, the fundamental essentials of his thought. He writes at the beginning: "We shall seek to portray this as simply and popularly as possible, and shall not presuppose a knowledge of even the most elementary notions of political economy. We wish to be understood by the workers." In my view he lives up to this statement, and I can therefore highly recommend this work, although I do not necessarily agree with the whole of its content or a large portion of his thought in general.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Willow L

    A good introduction but the last part where Marx puts forward his law of increasing misery of the working class is wrong and will put people off Marx

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paige McLoughlin

    A short pamphlet that Marx wanted to get in workers' hands to understand the economy. The macro and even the micro economy is a complex dynamic system with many moving parts agents buying and selling commodities the most important commodity being labor. With such a complex system no description no matter how elaborate will capture all of its aspects. In cases of describing such a system, we have different levels of detail we can use to describe it with trade-offs. We can use very simple toy mode A short pamphlet that Marx wanted to get in workers' hands to understand the economy. The macro and even the micro economy is a complex dynamic system with many moving parts agents buying and selling commodities the most important commodity being labor. With such a complex system no description no matter how elaborate will capture all of its aspects. In cases of describing such a system, we have different levels of detail we can use to describe it with trade-offs. We can use very simple toy models to describe but miss many aspects and details or we can try for precision and get lost in minutiae and bore the reader to death. It depends on the time available and level of interest how long you are going to make your treatment. For people fascinated by flows of money, and power dynamics, and in-depth analysis of macro and micro economy I would obviously go to books like Das Capital or a modern treatment like Anwar Shaikh's Capitalism: competition, crisis, conflict. However, most people don't have that much interest in economic theory and want something quick and dirty to understand Marxian economics. If you are such a person and want to get the gist of Marxian ideas around the economy I would start with this book. It is free on Scribd in audiobook form it is short and covers the basic argument. If you really think this stuff is good, fascinating, and useful I would recommend the longer works I mentioned be warned Capital is a slog in the later two-thirds, and Shaikh while heavy going is pretty good for people who want to nerd out on this stuff.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trico Lutkins

    I believe in listening to both sides of every story or debate. So I figured if I was an unapologenic capitalist, then I should at least hear what the other side had to say. Surprisingly, Marx has a very good understanding of how markets, wages, economics, inflation, deflation, and capital works. If you can look past the whole "capitalists shouldn't make money off of laborers" thing, this would be a great introduction to economics text. I believe in listening to both sides of every story or debate. So I figured if I was an unapologenic capitalist, then I should at least hear what the other side had to say. Surprisingly, Marx has a very good understanding of how markets, wages, economics, inflation, deflation, and capital works. If you can look past the whole "capitalists shouldn't make money off of laborers" thing, this would be a great introduction to economics text.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christie Neary

    An eminently readable book and a very good introduction to Marx’s economic works. Written with the intent of being read by and fully understood by workers at the time of Marx, it presupposes no knowledge of political economy and does a very good job of lucidly explaining several core concepts that serve as some of the building blocks of Marx’s later work

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    TBH just skip this and read Otani or Capital or smtjng. I liked Engels’s intro tho

  14. 5 out of 5

    Will

    Whereas my previous dips into Marx was more his philosophical views, this was a wonderful introduction to his economic thoughts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Schuster

    i crunched the numbers and turns out our economic system runs off capitalists stealing labor-value? kinda fucked, no?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Debarun

    This is a quick read. Just my notes. What are wages? Wages is what a labor gets in return of his sell of labor-power. He isn't sold whole like a slave, but is a free labor, i.e. he sells a fraction of himself. By what is the price of a commodity determined? In relation to the cost of production, obviously, but the coorelation is not watertight, fluctuation is the game of town. For the price of a commodity is also determined by the supply and demand chain and in the process is related to the price of This is a quick read. Just my notes. What are wages? Wages is what a labor gets in return of his sell of labor-power. He isn't sold whole like a slave, but is a free labor, i.e. he sells a fraction of himself. By what is the price of a commodity determined? In relation to the cost of production, obviously, but the coorelation is not watertight, fluctuation is the game of town. For the price of a commodity is also determined by the supply and demand chain and in the process is related to the price of other commodities in the market, for the price is always in relation to something else, a matrix of commodities, just like the Saussurean sign. The Nature and Growth of Capital "But though every capital is a sum of commodities – i.e., of exchange values – it does not follow that every sum of commodities, of exchange values, is capital." "How then does a sum of commodities, of exchange values, become capital? Thereby, that as an independent social power – i.e., as the power of a part of society – it preserves itself and multiplies by exchange with direct, living labour-power." "It is only the dominion of past, accumulated, materialized labour over immediate living labour that stamps the accumulated labour with the character of capital. Capital does not consist in the fact that accumulated labour serves living labour as a means for new production. It consists in the fact that living labour serves accumulated labour as the means of preserving and multiplying its exchange value." Relation of Wage-Labour to Capital "But neither the nominal wages – i.e., the amount of money for which the labourer sells himself to the capitalist – nor the real wages – i.e., the amount of commodities which he can buy for this money – exhausts the relations which are comprehended in the term wages. Wages are determined above all by their relations to the gain, the profit, of the capitalist. In other words, wages are a proportionate, relative quantity. Real wages express the price of labour-power in relation to the price of commodities; relative wages, on the other hand, express the share of immediate labour in the value newly created by it, in relation to the share of it which falls to accumulated labour, to capital." The General Law that Determines the Rise and Fall of Wages and Profits "They stand in inverse proportion to each other. The share of (profit) increases in the same proportion in which the share of labour (wages) falls, and vice versa. Profit rises in the same degree in which wages fall; it falls in the same degree in which wages rise." "The improvements of machinery, the new applications of the forces of nature in the service of production, make it possible to produce in a given period of time, with the same amount of labour and capital, a larger amount of products, but in no wise a larger amount of exchange values." The Interests of Capital and Wage-Labour are diametrically opposed effect of growth of productive Capital on Wages Profit and the growth of capital is related to the lowering of relative wage, albeit the real wage may rise. But this process happens only if the real wages don't rise as quickly as the profits rise. In what manner does the growth of productive capital affect wages? "Given more division of labour and more machinery, and there results a greater scale upon which division of labour and machinery are exploited. And competition again brings the same reaction against this result." Hence, as he mentions in next chapter, "method of production and the means of production are constantly enlarged, revolutionized, how division of labour necessarily draws after it greater division of labour". Effect of Capitalist Competition on the Capitalist Class the Middle Class and the Working Class "competition seeks to rob capital of the golden fruits of this power by reducing the price of commodities to the cost of production; in the same measure in which production is cheapened", hence the rise of monopolies and the demise of the petite-bourgoise, which in the process increases the pool of labourers in effect decreasing the relative wage further. That is, "but, this notwithstanding, the rapid growth of capital is the most favorable condition for wage-labour". Marx's tone in that last sentence. :P

  17. 4 out of 5

    Remy

    For the most part very clear, accessible read explaining wages, labour, labour-power, profit, and capital, and the relationships between all of these. Though admittedly, there were some road blocks where I was very confused with different concepts, especially since it gets more complex and in depth as it goes along. Also recommend reading "Capital" under marxists.org 's glossary page, where it breaks down these elements in (even more!) digestible pieces. As workers in a capitalist society, we own For the most part very clear, accessible read explaining wages, labour, labour-power, profit, and capital, and the relationships between all of these. Though admittedly, there were some road blocks where I was very confused with different concepts, especially since it gets more complex and in depth as it goes along. Also recommend reading "Capital" under marxists.org 's glossary page, where it breaks down these elements in (even more!) digestible pieces. As workers in a capitalist society, we own nothing but the ability to work. We sell this ability as labour power, the transformative power which in interacting with a commodity, creates a commodity. This commodity, with a surplus value added by the capitalist, creates profit. The worker's wage is threefold: nominal wage (monetary amount), real wage (value of the money--its buying power), and relational wage (ratio of the wage to the profit the capitalist gains from their work). From this understanding of wages we can see the class interests of the worker and capitalist are opposite. Marx also goes into how advancements of technology and competition between workers drives up profit (and thus, lowers relational wages). A must read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rollin

    A quick yet dense read. Take your time with it and Marx makes his ideas quite accessible. He also has a knack for gothic horror imagery in his writing about the capitalist mode of production. Pretty scary stuff.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

    Saw this described as basically a short, easy to digest version of the first volume of Capital. While I haven't read Capital this was certainly short and easy to digest. Now when I talk to my cool Marxist friends I feel a little more like I understand the words they're using, I'll call it a win! Saw this described as basically a short, easy to digest version of the first volume of Capital. While I haven't read Capital this was certainly short and easy to digest. Now when I talk to my cool Marxist friends I feel a little more like I understand the words they're using, I'll call it a win!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Marx's essay on economics which details the workings of capitalist economies and expounds Marx's views on it's exploitive nature. He considers this alienated labour... Marx's essay on economics which details the workings of capitalist economies and expounds Marx's views on it's exploitive nature. He considers this alienated labour...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pinkyivan

    More boring than anything else.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Geogeo

    Good explanation of the economic theories of communism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josiah Richardson

    Marx usually is disregarded by many as a "commie" or accepted by others for the same reason. I've only read a few of Marx's works, so I simply have dipped my toes in the water - but will probably jump in in the bear future. For full disclosure, I firmly believe that capitalism is the best and most moral way to approach the market, which should be as free as possible, of course. But Marx does point out the shortcomings of the system poignantly. I think the main critiques that stuck with me was hi Marx usually is disregarded by many as a "commie" or accepted by others for the same reason. I've only read a few of Marx's works, so I simply have dipped my toes in the water - but will probably jump in in the bear future. For full disclosure, I firmly believe that capitalism is the best and most moral way to approach the market, which should be as free as possible, of course. But Marx does point out the shortcomings of the system poignantly. I think the main critiques that stuck with me was his writing on the both the value of labor and of the labourer. A car manufacturer for instance may assemble the parts to a car for $25/hr while the car is sold for $35k. After taxes, this man would be able to buy the car after one year of complete savings. The product is thus more valuable than the product-maker by a factor of one year. The less valuable the product, the less the product-maker is compensated. Eventually the compensation becomes as low as possible to increase profit margins, but there is a theoretical threshold that keeps it from dropping to virtually no compensation at all. That threshold is the necessary compensation required to live. Many socialists today have been calling this a living wage. If the necessary compensation to live per week is, say, $300 (completely random number), then compensation would be nothing less than $60/day. This has the consequence of three things. 1. That the wages given will go no lower than that amount, otherwise there will be no labourers who will take the job to make the products. 2. The employer will have no reason to pay his labourers $120/day. The closer he can get to the living wage, the higher profits he will have and the labourers who are trying to make a living wage will be content to accept the pay. 3. This also insures that the labourers aren't able to afford the products they make. Going back to the car manufacturer employee, he has to save 100% of his wage for one year to pay for the very product he is making, which is impossible. For him to succeed in his purchase, he must have supplemental income, which usually entails a spouse working or living far below the minimum life he is already living. This cycle continues ad nauseum. You make enough money at work to pay for the gas to get back to work. Capitalism consistently makes rich men and poor men, regardless of work ethic. The beauty of a free market however, is the ability to move to an employer in need of labourers. When the labourer increases his value above the value of the product, he becomes economically successful. This can be done a number of ways, such as learning a skill or trade, but whatever the avenue, capitalism allows for it. Minimum wage laws in the US were not in effect during Marx's lifetime, so we can't say what his response would be to them; but they could have originated to meet this issue. Greed always will corrupt and this is the fatal flaw of capitalism. Trickle-down economics failed because it wasn't a trickle it was a torrential downpour and it wasn't down, it was up. The top kept their profits and didn't spend them the way they were supposed to, causing the bottom to dry up. Capitalism has its faults - of which Marx pointed out a few and of which I mostly agree. The rich do get richer, that is granted, but the poor do not stay poor. The beauty of capitalism is that it allows the poor to become rich through ingenuity and meeting the needs of the market.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julian Batz

    I wasn't able to understand where the flaws of communism were until after I read this book. The authors describes that a machine costs 20 schillings a day to run, 1 schilling for fuel, 3 schillings to pay the laborer. When the product is sold at 27 schillings, the capalitist earns 3 schillings after paying all other debt. According to engles and marx, the labor of the worker was what added the 6 schilling worth after machinery costs, therefore, the capalitist is inherently robbing the laborer of h I wasn't able to understand where the flaws of communism were until after I read this book. The authors describes that a machine costs 20 schillings a day to run, 1 schilling for fuel, 3 schillings to pay the laborer. When the product is sold at 27 schillings, the capalitist earns 3 schillings after paying all other debt. According to engles and marx, the labor of the worker was what added the 6 schilling worth after machinery costs, therefore, the capalitist is inherently robbing the laborer of half the nominal value of his labor. BOOM. There is the underlying flaw. This equation fails to account for two components of the equation and operates under a false assumption. It assumes that the capalitist does not have any laborer of his own, which is general not true. The person who owns the means of production works in establishing procedures, systems, creating the organization, time cards, and all other administrative work that is required to run industiral enterprise. Also, Marx and Engle fail to recognize the risk and opportunity that the capalitist accepts and creates, respectively. The capalitists share of the 6 schillings is due to the fact he is ultimately responsible for the providing initial and consequential costs associated with the means of production, he/she is also tightly responsible for failure of profitable production. Without the capalitist assuming this risk, the laborer would not have been allotted the opportunity to turn his labor into nominal value. If the laborer saves his money, creates his own business, assumes the risk and creates the opportunity for himself/herself, AND also conducts the labor, then he/she is only just becoming the capalitist themselves. And although they would get 6 schillings completely to themselves, Ultimately it isn't possible to produce at the same rate as a competitor who divides the tasks. Therefore, the lack of quantity of production means that although the laborer earns more money per product in this example, they ultimately earn less due to the fact they can not produce as much or as fast. This is why capitalism ultimately proved successful over communist economies.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dunahoo

    Whatever one thinks about Marx's Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital is a little more difficult to disregard. That is because much of what Marx writes here is appears to be true, especially when it comes to the unregulated capitalism of his day. The primary point Marx is getting at here is that the wages being paid to workers are subsistence wages (or, rather, wages that are just barely enough), since there is not much motivation to pay the worker more. He also points out that when profits rise, i Whatever one thinks about Marx's Manifesto, Wage Labor and Capital is a little more difficult to disregard. That is because much of what Marx writes here is appears to be true, especially when it comes to the unregulated capitalism of his day. The primary point Marx is getting at here is that the wages being paid to workers are subsistence wages (or, rather, wages that are just barely enough), since there is not much motivation to pay the worker more. He also points out that when profits rise, it doesn't necessary follow that workers will be paid more. In fact, in Marx's view this effectively results in the worker's wages going down, because while his wages may remain the same they are slower relative to the amount of economic growth. (Today this sort of situation is measured with the Gini coefficient, in addition to inflation). None of this is wrong. It's painfully true. When Marx was writing this the old photos we saw as children in history class of impoverished children laboring on dangerous machines or in coal mines were his present day, and one can hardly blame him for coming to the following conclusion: profit must be eliminated. However, this is one of several areas where I take issue with Marx. I do not find this to be a reasonable response. Minimum wages and a whole host of policies can be implemented that can prevent subsistence wages from being the norm. Today many will point to the grotesque amount of inequality in the United States as proof that Marx was right. While in a sense he was, there are many policies that can be implemented to save capitalism from itself. This essay was far more interesting to me than the Manifesto. I would recommend reading it, and there are some good points in here that make it worthwhile, even if the proposed solution of eliminating profit would appear suspect to most modern readers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    Just a few highlights: "But capital not only lives upon labour. Like a master, at once distinguished and barbarous, it drags with it into its grave the corpses of its slaves, whole hecatombs of workers, who perish in the crises." "To say that "the worker has an interest in the rapid growth of capital", means only this: that the more speedily the worker augments the wealth of the capitalist, the larger will be the crumbs which fall to him, the greater will be the number of workers than can be calle Just a few highlights: "But capital not only lives upon labour. Like a master, at once distinguished and barbarous, it drags with it into its grave the corpses of its slaves, whole hecatombs of workers, who perish in the crises." "To say that "the worker has an interest in the rapid growth of capital", means only this: that the more speedily the worker augments the wealth of the capitalist, the larger will be the crumbs which fall to him, the greater will be the number of workers than can be called into existence, the more can the mass of slaves dependent upon capital be increased." "Furthermore, to the same degree in which the division of labour increases, is the labour simplified. The special skill of the labourer becomes worthless. He becomes transformed into a simple monotonous force of production, with neither physical nor mental elasticity. His work becomes accessible to all; therefore competitors press upon him from all sides." "Moreover, it must be remembered that the more simple, the more easily learned the work is, so much the less is its cost to production, the expense of its acquisition, and so much the lower must the wages sink – for, like the price of any other commodity, they are determined by the cost of production. Therefore, in the same manner in which labour becomes more unsatisfactory, more repulsive, do competition increase and wages decrease." "The labourer seeks to MAINTAIN the total of his wages for a given time by performing more labour, either by working a great number of hours, or by accomplishing more in the same number of hours. Thus, urged on by want, he himself multiplies the disastrous effects of division of labour. The result is: the more he works, the less wages he receives. And for this simple reason: the more he works, the more he competes against his fellow workmen, the more he compels them to compete against him, and to offer themselves on the same wretched conditions as he does; so that, in the last analysis, he competes against himself as a member of the working class." (emphasis added) "[T]he more productive capital grows, the more it extends the division of labour and the application of machinery; the more the division of labour and the application of machinery extend, the more does competition extend among the workers, the more do their wages shrink together." "We thus see that if capital grows rapidly, competition among the workers grows with even greater rapidity – i.e., the means of employment and subsistence for the working class decrease in proportion even more rapidly; but, this notwithstanding, the rapid growth of capital is the most favorable condition for wage-labour."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Niklas

    I haven't really dealt with basic economics before, but I've found some really inspiring ideas in this short book, mainly stemming from the distinction of work and workforce. Furthermore, Marx clearly depicts the upwards spiral necessary for economic growth -- in capitalist systems, that is -- that I've wanted to look into for some time now. Even without much understanding of basic economics, this book is a fairly light read -- after all, it was written as propaganda material for "the uneducated w I haven't really dealt with basic economics before, but I've found some really inspiring ideas in this short book, mainly stemming from the distinction of work and workforce. Furthermore, Marx clearly depicts the upwards spiral necessary for economic growth -- in capitalist systems, that is -- that I've wanted to look into for some time now. Even without much understanding of basic economics, this book is a fairly light read -- after all, it was written as propaganda material for "the uneducated worker". Also, there's this great quote: Je rascher die Arbeiterklasse die ihr feindliche Macht, den fremden, über sie gebietenden Reichtum vermehrt und vergrößert, unter desto günstigern Bedingungen wird ihr erlaubt, von neuem an der Vermehrung des bürgerlichen Reichtums, an der Vergrößerung der Macht des Kapitals zu arbeiten, zufrieden, sich selbst die goldnen Ketten zu schmieden, woran die Bourgeoisie sie hinter sich herschleift.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt Grimes

    Disappointing. To Marx’s credit, he wrote this over 150 years ago and it was probably really ground breaking at the time. I’m sure the economists he was debunking were saying even dumber things. However, anyone who has read modern heterodox economists (particularly the Austrians) will easily see how Marx (unintentionally) oversimplifies causes and effects and fails to account for how short term negatives are greatly neutered over time leading to net positives (or how his critiques of competition Disappointing. To Marx’s credit, he wrote this over 150 years ago and it was probably really ground breaking at the time. I’m sure the economists he was debunking were saying even dumber things. However, anyone who has read modern heterodox economists (particularly the Austrians) will easily see how Marx (unintentionally) oversimplifies causes and effects and fails to account for how short term negatives are greatly neutered over time leading to net positives (or how his critiques of competition are not a capitalist problem but a being-alive problem and apply just as much to dating/sexual markets, tribal societies, and even genetic selection among any living being). I begrudgingly continue to journey through Marx, in hopes of eventually being converted to a Marxist so I can finally be cool and popular, or at bare minimum finding the case compelling enough that I don’t have to keep thinking all my intellectual Marxist friends are actually idiots.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Logan Bertram

    Best read as a companion to Capital vol 1, Wage Labor and Capital elucidates some of the premises Marx builds from in Capital, especially with relation to the origin of value, the relation between supply and demand and the labor theory of value, and the nature of wages in capitalism from a Marxist perspective. It's a short read, and a good book to help Econ 101 readers bridge the gap to understanding some of Marx's assumptions. Best read as a companion to Capital vol 1, Wage Labor and Capital elucidates some of the premises Marx builds from in Capital, especially with relation to the origin of value, the relation between supply and demand and the labor theory of value, and the nature of wages in capitalism from a Marxist perspective. It's a short read, and a good book to help Econ 101 readers bridge the gap to understanding some of Marx's assumptions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Neil Marais

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Marx provides incredibly astute analysis of the relationship between wage labour and the capitalist class. I found his understanding of the 'industrial reserve army' as a necessity of capitalism to be particularly insightful. He also explains why wages are the amount they are, why there are crises of overproduction in capitalism and why a worker sells their labour-power not their labour. That last insight was particularly profound to me. Marx provides incredibly astute analysis of the relationship between wage labour and the capitalist class. I found his understanding of the 'industrial reserve army' as a necessity of capitalism to be particularly insightful. He also explains why wages are the amount they are, why there are crises of overproduction in capitalism and why a worker sells their labour-power not their labour. That last insight was particularly profound to me.

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